Japan's Shoma Uno claims 1st world title with dominant performance at figure skating worlds
Roman Sadovsky finishes 12th, 2 places ahead of fellow Canadian Keegan Messing
Olympic bronze medallist Shoma Uno concluded a dominant figure skating world championships by winning the gold medal Saturday, while Vincent Zhou of the U.S. catapulted from sixth after his short program to earn the bronze.
Uno finished with 312.48 points to easily outdistance Yuma Kagiyama, who finished second to his Japanese teammate in both the short program and free skate. Kagiyama had 297.60 points while Zhou finished with 277.38.
"I haven't won too often so I'm very happy about that," Uno said. "I was watching all the performances of the previous groups so I knew very well where I was. All my emotions went into a smile at the end of my program."
WATCH l Shoma Uno secures 1st world title:
Roman Sadovsky of Vaughan, Ont., finished the competition in 12th place with a total score of 245.36. He bounced back after a poor short program with a strong free skate that saw him finish in ninth place in the long program.
Fellow Canadian Keegan Messing finished in 14th place with 235.03 points. The Sherwood Park, Alta., native was ninth after the short program.
WATCH l Sadovsky finishes 12th at figure skating worlds:
It was an emotional and redemptive performance Saturday for the 21-year-old Zhou, who helped the Americans win team silver at the Beijing Games — a medal that could be elevated to gold pending a Russian doping investigation.
Zhou was preparing for the men's competition when he tested positive for COVID-19, knocking him out of the rest of his Olympics. He was forced to spend nearly two weeks in quarantine before he was finally allowed out in time to perform in the closing exhibition gala, then was deemed a "close contact" and barred from the closing ceremony.
"I'm still very upset over the loss of that opportunity at the Olympics," he said, "but I'm very grateful that I still had the chance to compete here at worlds. And again, I'm very proud of myself for putting out two strong performances."
WATCH l Keegan Messing falls to 14th after free skate:
His performance Saturday ended a rollercoaster of a season on a high.
Before all of Zhou's trouble in Beijing, the Brown University student soared to victories in the lower-level Cranberry Cup and Nebelhorn Trophy before finishing second in his Grand Prix assignment at the NHK Trophy. Then, Zhou topped Uno and his American teammate Nathan Chen, the Olympic champion, at Skate America.
Chen, the three-time world champion, was unable to defend his title this week. He was putting in the final practice before heading to Montpellier, France, when an injury popped up last week that forced him to withdraw.
That opened the door for Umo to finally stand on the top step of the podium.
WATCH | Shoma Uno takes 1st world figure skating title | That Figure Skating Show:
'I haven't won too often so I'm very happy about that'
Long overshadowed by Japanese star Yuzuru Hanyu, the 24-year-old Umo finished second at the 2017 and 2018 world championships and was fourth last year. But he was a level above everyone else in France, following a personal-best score in his short program with another personal-best for his "Bolero" program in the free skate.
Seventeen-year-old American star Ilia Malinin, who is targeting the 2026 Olympics in Italy, was fourth after his short program but struggled with his free skate. He wound up tumbling all the way to ninth, though not without showing some of the vast promise that has made him the heir apparent to Chen in American figure skating.
"I think it was more pressure on myself, just wanting to skate good so badly and it kind of didn't work out," he said. "I feel I was maybe a little bit too into the program. It was just a mess, so it's hard to explain what happened."
Ukraine's Shmuratko gets standing ovation
Emotions ran high as Ukraine's Ivan Shmuratko received a long standing ovation that even delayed the start of his free skate, although he was not penalized by the judges.
Shmuratko, who ultimately finished last, had skated his short program wearing Ukraine's blue and yellow training T-shirt.
Ukraine's skaters have been taking part in the world championships despite most of them taking days to get out of their country to make it to France.
Russian and Belarusian skaters were banned from competing following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
With files from Reuters